Various Artists - Flirting With The Noise Floor [Modern Tapes - 2021]
Flirting With The Noise Floor is a C30 boxset/ digital download focusing on the lower case/ ambient side of the wall noise genre. The set takes in six fairly distinctive examples of this sub-genre, and I must say it’s one of the more classy/ arty looking walled noise comps to appear in quite some years.
The release appears on Modern Tapes- a Brooklyn based label that focuses on the more static and ambient side of the noise genre. The three clear, pro-dubbed and screen-printed cassettes each come in their cardstock O-cards with photocopied labels- with all three presented in a black silkscreened cardboard box with a photocopied insert. Sadly, the pressing of this boxset was very, very ltd- so this now out of print with the label- you may still be able to track a lone copy somewhere, and I’d say it’s certainly worth doing so as it’s a great classy presentation, which stands up to the great selection of tracks with-in.
The projects selected for the comp come from right across the globe- and the boxset opens with a track from Russian noisemaker Sergey Pakhomov entitled “Emptiness Reflector”. If you have only a passing interest in the more textured and detailed side of the wall noise genre, you’ll know Pakhomov's name- as since around 2015 he’s released a fairly large body of work focusing on this side of the genre, under both his own name and projects like Train Cemetery, Leichen, Bitum, etc. The track on offer here is a prime example of his craft and skill as a lower-case noise maker- it’s built around a slowly-but-surely growing matt of static texturing, which over time builds into a very detailed and nuanced sonic construction. It’s built around a blend of micro pops and snaps, insect-like scrapings and even if small showers of falling static. Pakhomov weaves these elements together into a highly appealing and entrancing track, which does give both your ears and brain a workout, as you try to follow the building layers and patterns present within the piece.
Next up we have a track from respected UK scenester, label runner and noisemaker James Shearman- the track here is entitled “ Thorn Fingers”. This starts off in a spaced-out and subdued blend of rustle and crinkle- with Shearman nicely building both anticipation and different type of textural detail. Around the eighth minute, the movement and shift in the textures become busier and more sudden in their attacks, with creaks, slides and snapping slides and table like fumbles. I’d say this track fits more into the lower-case sound art side of things.
Moving on to the first side of the second tape and we have E.F. Stoermer - "Selective Segregators In Global Ocean Planktonic Communities". The E. F Stoermer project is the work of highly talented Seattle based noise maker Peter Keller (Geißt, Condo Horro, Dirac Sea, Kôan-Din, Unser Verhängnis). And the track here though still, lower-case wall craft is one of the busier and borrowing examples I’ve heard of the genre from Keller. The track built around a selection of mid-range fibrous rub ’n’ purr- these are surrounded by a selection feasting static tone, and a low/ deep fixed rumble. Together these create a feeling of amassed marching centipedes in an underground tunnel, or maybe a large colony of ants. From time to time the smaller feasting static tones are left on their own briefly and this nice throws you off the focused burrowing intent of the track, and you then have re-connected back up the patterns/ tones when they come back in
Flipping over this second tape and we have a track from Serbian born now French located project Dosis Letalis- and once again this is another highly respected project, who will be known to those familiar with the wider wall noise scene. It’s entitled “Paper Clock Hypnosis”- and here find a constantly ticking sound that is surrounded by squiggles, crisp circling, and the occasional knock/ drag. This track has a rather mysterious feel to it, and the use of ticking gives a slight feeling of steady tolling unease to the proceeding.
Moving onto the third/ final tape in the set and first, up we have a track from PTRKLLR- this is another Peter Keller project. The lengthy entitled track here is “A Package Of Words Wrapped Around A Thought In It Disappears When Read”, and we find a wonderfully busy track that rather sounds akin to a speed-up recording of amass of book worms attacking a pile of books. So we get a very compelling and detailed blend of rapid burrowing sound, detailed munching tones, and folding/ bending sounds as the books collapse and fall apart.Roger Batty
Finally, on the last side of the tape, we have "Peeling Backwards", a track from V.h, which is one of the projects of Patrick who is behind the Modern Tapes label. This track is another detailed and busy affair- blending together distant shift and shuffles, bangs and scapes, and more fiddling pole type texturing. This feels akin to watching some strange manakin figure slowly build it's self together, stretch and start moving around the room it’s jerking/ strange form- though it often falls or scapes the walls of the room with its odd movement.
In finishing it’s so great to see a multi tape comp like this appearing- and both the quality of the tracks and the packaging is spot on…such a pity it went out of print so fast!. If you, can it’s worth trying to track a copy down, if not a download of the release is certainly something you’ll be needing to get hold of if you enjoy the lower-case or ambient side of the walled noise scene. Head here to find out more.